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GUJRAT: Ruling PML-N candidates in Mandi Bahauddin face a tough challenge from none other than their own party colleagues who are contesting independently in the local government elections second phase scheduled to be held on Nov 19.

Apart from a good number of PTI candidates, independents backed by mainstream opposition parties like PML-Q, PPP, PTI and JI also pose a major threat to the ruling party.

There are 80 rural union councils in the district -- 30 in Mandi Bahauddin tehsil, 28 in Phalia and 22 in Malakwal. PTI and PML Q are better placed in Phalia and Mandi Bahauddin tehsils to challenge PML-N.

PML-Q is better placed in 18 UCs

The ruling party has pitched some 47 panels of UC chairmen and vice chairmen followed by the PTI which could field aspirants for 41 UCs whereas the PML-Q awarded tickets to 12, PPP nominated 11 and JI fielded three panels.

Most of the local PPP leaders are contesting as independent, including party’s district general secretary Hasan Aslam and Arshad Lilla.

The PML-N is clearly divided in different factions as both the MNAs of the party from this district -- Nasir Iqbal Bosal and Mumtaz Ahmed Tarrar -- are at loggerheads in UC Seda Sharif where Mr Bosal has awarded party ticket to Imtiaz Ahemd Tarrar who faces Mumtaz Tarrar’s first cousin Zahid Tarrar as an independent candidate.

The UC which falls in NA-109, the constituency of Mr. Bosal, is in the native area of Mr. Tarrar.

Similarly, in other UCs where the PML-N has fielded candidates, independents are also from the same party, providing an opportunity to the PTI and PML-Q to take advantage of the situation.

The PML-Q backed candidates are said to be in strong position of winning in 18 UCs of PP-118, the constituency where party leader Moonis Elahi had won in 2013 general elections. Mr Elahi had however vacated the seat to retain his native constituency PP-110 (Gujrat).

Out of 18, Q awarded tickets in ix UCs only. In the remaining UCs, the party-backed independents are up against PTI candidates as the ruling PML N has fielded only a single panel in this particular constituency.

The PML-Q had not contested against the PML-N nominee Akhtar Bosal in the by- polls after Moonis vacated the seat due to a local arrangement between the Bosal family of the PML-N and the Bhatti family of the PML-Q who have been the local allies since long and this time the Q is playing a leading role in this constituency.

Former PPP MNA Major Zulfiqar Gondal retired, also the younger brother of the PPP stalwart and former federal minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal, is in run for UC Pind Makko chairman whereas ex-PPP MPA Asif Basheer Bhagat has fielded his brother Rashid Basheer Bhagat on PPP ticket in another UC of Phalia tehsil.

Former Mandi Bahauddin tehsil nazim Haji Imtiaz Ahmed Chaudhary, the elder brother of disqualified MNA Ijaz Chaudhary, is a PTI candidate for chairman of UC-65 against PML-N’s Arshad Mahmood.

Malakwal tehsil’s former nazim Ghulam Hussain Bosal, brother of PML-N MPA Akhtar Bosal, is contesting as a PML-N candidate for UC-17 chairman. In case he wins, he is being tipped as a favorite candidate of the ruling party for district council chairman.

The most interesting contest is said to be in UC-10, Murala, where candidates of PML-N, PTI, PPP, JI and at least five independents are in run.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2015

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